Mission of the Academic Freedom Alliance
Keith E. Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Princeton University; Chair, AFA Academic Committee
Photo Credit, Sameer Kahn, Fotobuddy Photography
The Academic Freedom Alliance is an alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principle of academic freedom. This principle is central to the mission of our institutions for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. Our members from across the political spectrum recognize that an attack on academic freedom anywhere is an attack on academic freedom everywhere.
The AFA commits to two means of protecting academic freedom. First, our members will defend faculty members’ freedom of thought and expression in their work as researchers and writers or in their lives as citizens, within established ethical and legal bounds; freedom to design courses and conduct classes using reasonable pedagogical judgment; and freedom from ideological tests, affirmations, and oaths.
Second, the AFA will aid in providing legal support to faculty whose academic freedom is threatened by institutions’ or officials’ violations of constitutional, statutory, contractual, or school-based rights.
The AFA seeks to counteract pressures on employers to take actions against employees whose views, statements, or teachings they may disapprove or dislike. We oppose such pressures from the government, college or university officials, and individuals or groups inside or outside colleges and universities. Recognizing the array of political viewpoints in a college or university that respects academic freedom, the AFA’s defense of faculty members’ academic freedom does not depend on viewpoint, nor does it endorse the content of what they express. What we defend is members’ right of expression.
Lucas E. Morel, John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics, Washington and Lee University; Member, AFA Academic Committee
Photo Credit, Sameer Kahn, Fotobuddy Photography
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Academic Freedom Alliance?
The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to uphold the principles of academic freedom for faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States. The AFA, in appropriate circumstances, provides aid for legal support to members whose constitutional, statutory, contractual, or other legally protected rights relating to academic freedom have been violated or are under threat.
Who can join AFA?
Our Founding Members are current and emeritus faculty of American colleges and universities. At this time membership to the AFA is by invitation; in due course, we intend to allow applications for membership. If you are interested in the activities of the AFA, please sign up to receive our email announcements.
How does the AFA support its members?
The AFA provides support to members on cases that fit within the organization’s mission. We reserve the right to also support cases for non-member faculty, as well as staff and students, that may advance the cause of academic freedom. The AFA is under no obligation to support all cases for which aid is requested, or cases of non-members.
Members of the AFA pledge to support fellow AFA members whose rights have been violated or are threatened. The AFA will provide moral support for scholars whose rights are violated or threatened – no matter the scholars’ viewpoints or the perspective from which the violation or threat is coming. The AFA also provides support for legal aid to individual members whose contractual or constitutional rights are being violated. By standing up for a member’s rights, the AFA hopes to bring a swift end to violations or threats of violations of academic freedom; however, the AFA will also consider providing support for litigating cases when necessary. In determining whether cases are meritorious and worthy of support, we rely on the assistance of our Legal Advisory Council, a team of distinguished lawyers who vet cases to determine whether the legal rights of members have been violated or placed in jeopardy. The Advisory Council makes recommendations to our Academic Committee, which will make the final decision on when to provide financial support and whether to issue a private or public statement concerning the case.
What is AFA’s political affiliation?
The AFA is a non-partisan, non-political organization whose membership and leadership is diverse. Our interest is in defending faculty who find their academic freedom under threat, and in defending core principles of academic freedom and integrity. Recognizing the array of political viewpoints in a college or university that respects academic freedom, the AFA’s defense of faculty members’ academic freedom does not depend on viewpoint, nor does it endorse the content of what members say. What we defend is members’ right of expression.
Who are your donors?
The Academic Freedom Alliance welcomes the financial support of individuals and foundations who share our organization’s commitment to academic freedom and integrity. We are especially grateful for the financial support made to the AFA by the John and Daria Barry Family Foundation.
How can I contribute financially to the AFA?
Please visit our Donate page for ways to give. The Academic Freedom Alliance, Inc. relies entirely on the financial support of individuals and foundations in order to continue defending free speech. The AFA’s application for recognition of its tax- exempt status is pending. The AFA expects to be recognized as a publicly supported organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and for the recognition to be effective retroactively to October 12, 2020, its date of incorporation. It is the AFA’s expectation that donations to the AFA will be eligible for the U.S. income tax charitable deduction to the extent provided by tax laws. AFA does not provide legal or accounting advice, and donors are urged to consult their own tax advisors if they have questions.
Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance
Individuals at academic institutions should not fear suppression or retaliation for teaching, writing, or speaking. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.